2017 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Ike Gauntlet Review: World’s Toughest Towing Test [Video]

2017 nissan frontier 4x4 ike towing test review

We are nearing the end of the 2017 Gold Hitch award testing. This is an annual competition to crown the top towing and off-road trucks in the land. The 2017 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X is competing in the midsize division against the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado V6 8-Speed and the 2017 GMC Canyon Denali Diesel.

Although, this is the last truck in this group, and all the scores are published below – the final 2017 Gold Hitch award selection is not yet determined. TFLtruck crew will get together soon to make the final deliberations and decisions. We will take into account the Ike Gauntlet towing testing, as well as the highway MPG loop performance.

The awards will be announced and given out in the evening of Apr 3rd, 2017.

2017 Nissan Frontier Crew 4.0L V6 4×4 PRO-4X

  • Engine: 4.0L V6
  • Power: 261 @ 5,600 rpm
  • Torque: 281 @ 4,100 rpm
  • Transmission: 5-speed automatic
  • Rear Axle Ratio: 3.357
  • Max Towing: 6,450 lbs
  • Max Payload: 1,040 lbs
  • GVWR: 5,600 lbs
  • GCWR: 11,230 lbs
  • EPA-estimated Fuel Economy: // mpg (city/hwy/combined)
  • As-tested Price: $37,000

All midsize trucks are hitched up to the same 6,100 lbs CM Trailers 14-foot Stocker trailer. We always use water for ballast, and set up the tongue weight around 600 lbs. We calculate the tongue weight at approximately 10% of the combined trailer weight.


We test downhill performance by starting the 8 mile downhill at 50 MPH (which is the speed limit inside the tunnel). We use the tow/haul mode (and exhaust brake if equipped) and let the truck do its thing. If it accelerates past 60 MPH, which is the speed limit, then we apply the brake firmly to slow down to 50 MPH. We count the number of time we have to apply the brakes in this fashion. Every time we touch the brakes on the way down, the truck looses a point.

We received several questions about the Grade Braking being enabled on the truck when we were testing it. We double-checked this. Yes, Grade Braking was “Active” during the Ike Gauntlet run.


We time the truck on the way up (8 mile stretch of the interstate on a 7% grade going from around 9,000 feet to 11,158 feet of elevation). We also take note of the truck’s average MPG as reported by the trip computer. The benchmark time is 8 minutes. This assumes that the truck accelerated quickly, and maintained 60 MPH the entire way up the hill. Every 5 seconds over the time goal subtracts a point from the truck’s overall score. The benchmark MPG number is 6.0MPG. Every 0.2 MPG below that, and the truck looses a point.


Each reviewer that participates in the test is given a maximum of 25 points for their subjective opinion. These scores are averaged and added to the downhill and uphill objective scores. The final score is stated out of maximum possible 100 points.

2017 Midsize Trucks:

Towing a 6,100 lbs cargo trailer.

Year Make Model Down (Num. Brakes) Up (Time) Up (MPG)  Subjective (Avg) Ike Score
2017 Chevy Colorado Crew 4×4 V6 5 08:18.92 4.9 20 80
2017 GMC Canyon Crew 4×4 D I4 1 09:11.50 6.9 22 87
2017 Nissan Frontier Crew 4×4 V6 8 08:45.87 3.7 17 63

Check out all the towing fun in the video below.